Are you planning your Disney vacation and trying to decide when to go? Let’s take a look at our exclusive Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar for 2021 to find the perfect time!
One of the biggest questions people have when planning their trip to Disney World is one of the most basic ones: when should you go? Figuring out when to go to Disney World is the first step of our Disney Vacation Planning Guide. You cannot make any other decisions until this step is complete.
Our dad, Dave, has spent hours and hours researching this exact topic because it has huge implications on how magical your visit is! In our opinion, the number of people at Disney can make or break your vacation. We rely on our crowd calendar to help pick the best time to go.
What is a Disney World Crowd Calendar? Good question. It is our best guess at when to go to Disney based upon how many people are visiting the park on any given day. For us, low crowds means a good time to visit.
Obviously we don’t know the future and can’t fully predict how busy Disney World will get. However, we can make pretty good predictions based on patterns, weather, activities and personal experience. Our crowd calendar will help guide you in knowing when the best time will be to visit Disney.
What you Need to Know About The Walt Disney World Calendar
In summary, here is what you need to know if you are looking for low crowds at Disney:
- Avoid holiday weekends, including and especially, 3 day weekends.
- Be aware of the dance and cheer competitions. These bring huge crowds. These often happen on weekends so if you are going during the week this may not impact you as much.
- Disney hosts a number of running events throughout the year. Be aware of these as these often bring in high numbers of people.
- Summer is busy but it is not as busy as it used to be. This is great news if you don’t want to take kids out of school or are wanting to spend significant time at the pool or Typhoon Lagoon.
- Dips in attendance at Disney World happen regularly in between holidays and other events. We recommend looking at those times first! If you have pre-school age children or are bringing all adults be sure to check out September!
These 5 tips will help you plan your Disney Vacation far out in advance. For example, you can look at 2021 or 2022 and know that you should avoid any 3 day holiday weekend regardless of what exact dates they are!
Other Questions to Ask Yourself
When you decide to go to Disney World rests on a lot of personal factors for you and your family as well. Some questions you need to ask yourself are:
- How important is the crowd factor to me during my visit?
- Am I ok with my children missing some school?
- What kind of weather do I want to have?
- Do I want to spend a chunk of my time at the pools and Typhoon Lagoon?
- Do I want to visit during special times, like the food and wine festival or flower festival at Epcot?
2021: Disney and its 50th Anniversary year
We definitely live in a different world with Covid and the world of Disney is no different. This brings both good and bad news to the 2021 crowd calendar.
Bad news first you say? Ok here we go:
- As of this writing, Disneyland is still closed so some folks who would normally vacation at Disneyland may decide to go to Disney World.
- Social distancing and safety measures are in full effect at Disney which means there is social distancing, cleaning and reduced capacity. Basically, everything is slower than the usual quick paced Disney experience.
- No hugs or autographs from any of the characters and Princesses.
- If you are super worried about Covid, even with all the precautionary procedures, nothing is certain. Many of the rides are not being cleaned between riders and touching everything is always going to occur, not to mention flights to Orlando and other ways you could potentially get the disease. This is something to take into consideration especially if you have people in your group who are over the age of 65.
- You will need to wear your mask at all times. Again, depending on how you feel about wearing a mask, it can be an annoyance. You are not allowed to walk and eat or drink anything…even a coffee with your mask off. Hot Florida sun plus mask equals UGH for many.
But there is some good news!
- Not as many people will be going to Disney World this year. Many are just waiting until the pandemic is over…yikes…2022 could be super busy!
- Wait times for attractions are significantly lower.
- People are playing by the rules well. Masks on, waiting patiently and kindness seems to be the motto of Disney World through the pandemic! What could be better than that?
- You get a lot of personal space! We love that! No sitting on top of each other at an attraction.
- Disney really is trying to do a great job at keeping everything clean and moving. We wouldn’t expect anything less from them. It is the most magical place on earth, after all!
- Dance and Cheerleader competitions, marathon and half marathon and other events are being canceled so that means less people. This is great news as far as the crowd calendar is concerned.
We have a full post on Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration so be sure to check that out too!
Will Disney World be back to normal in 2021?
We don’t know if Disney will be back to normal in 2021. There is currently no end date for face masks, social distancing, and the return of all normal events and activities commonly held at Disney.
That being said, if you are ok with all the cons listed, 2021 might be a good time to go. Many of the normal events that happen at Disney simply won’t be going on which will significantly reduce the crowd numbers.
Month By Month – When to Avoid Disney And When To GO
A big part of having the right mindset for Disney is understanding the flow of the crowds.. It is helpful to know what to expect as far as crowds.
While the exact dates of high attendance and low attendance changes year by year, there are certain times of the year and certain events happening at Disney that we suggest avoiding.
Below you will find a month by month rundown of the 2021 Disney World Crowd Calendar. You will find the attendance predictions for the year as well as both general and specific events happening each month.
Obviously the exact attendance at Disney World cannot be foretold (if only Yoda could help us…) but this should give you a general idea of what to expect.
It may be helpful for you to also google specific events happening to give you assistance as to which particular park you may want to avoid on a specific day. For example, if a cheer event is happening in the Magic Kingdom, spend that day at Epcot instead!
Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar 2021
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 60°, 6 days with precipitation this month.
Early January – Walt Disney World Marathon weekend is usually happening and schools are still on break which typically makes this a busy time in Disney World. This year, however, the Marathon has been canceled.
Martin Luther King Jr weekend brings a 3 day federal holiday weekend and college Cheerleading and Dance competitions. While this weekend isn’t one of the busiest, it is wise to be aware that crowds are higher than what you may expect.
NOTE: as of this writing the Cheerleader competition has not been canceled. Stay tuned.
Another National Dance Team Championship is late in the month.
NOTE: As of this writing the competition is still on but will possibly be cancelled.
I like this time to go to Disney! It can be a bit chilly but typically nice with lower crowd levels.
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 61°, 7 days with precipitation this month
February 3-6 is the best time to visit this month!
Early February – National High School Cheerleading competition. This is a very prestigious, televised competition (ESPN). In 2020, this competition brought in 20,000 athletes. NOTE: may be canceled.
February 13-18 Presidents Day Weekend, Valentines Day, and Mardi Gras make this a busier time to visit Disney.
Cancelled: Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend. This half marathon event also includes a 5k, 10k, and the Disney Fairy Tale Challenge was going to be the 18 – 21.
End of February – The Contest of Champions is an open dance and drill competition that takes place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World. NOTE: may be canceled.
I would go February 1-5! Its clear sailing!
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 67°, 8 days with precipitation this month
The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival starts March 3rd and runs until June 7. You will see beautiful topiary displays of Disney Characters throughout Epcot. This is truly a beautiful festival! During this time there is typically a concert series. Be sure to check here for up to date information from Disney about experiences, events, and reservations.
Overall this month is hit or miss with rolling spring breaks throughout the country and a wide variety of Dance and Cheer competitions happening throughout the parks. We recommend going earlier in the month if you can.
If you go to Disney World in March, go early! As the month goes along, the crowds increase with spring break.
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 71°, 6 days with precipitation this month.
The week before Easter and Easter weekend are generally a very busy time as many people are off of school.
April 16-18 – Star Wars Rival Run Weekend. A Star Wars themed running weekend which includes a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and the Star Wars Rival Run challenge. NOTE: may be canceled.
April 17 – 23 Party for the Planet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
April 26 – April 30 – sneaky time to go! Low crowds and great temperatures make this a fantastic time to go if you can swing it.
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 77°, 8 days with precipitation this month
May is a great time to visit Disney during the week. Weekends are not as good.
Early and mid May – Summit Dance and Cheer competitions. About 1,000 cheer teams compete at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. NOTE: may be canceled.
Memorial Day – Holiday weekend and the beginning of summer break in some parts of the country. Memorial Day is not only the unofficial start to summer in the general USA, it is also the summer kick off in Disney World! The parks start to stay open later beginning Memorial Day (usually staying open until 10:00 rather than 9:00).
If you can tolerate all of the cheerleader’s pom poms on the weekends (haha! one of Dave’s daughters was a competitive cheerleader!), May isn’t a bad time to go to Disney!
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 81°, 14 days with precipitation this month
June is generally very busy, but summer is not as busy as it has been in past years. You will want to be aware that June is hot, humid, and rainy!
I used to stay clear of the summer months but times are changing! The crowds are actually better than in the past.
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 82°, 17 days with precipitation this month
4th of July brings heavy crowds at the Magic Kingdom. Disney is known for its incredible fireworks display and it draws very busy crowds. Both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot have special 4th of July celebrations. Disney Springs has special 4th of July decor and the Animal Kingdom usually has special food and beverages to celebrate America’s Independence Day.
The rest of July is very busy but not as busy as summers have been in the past. If you can brave the heat and humidity (average is 74% humidity in Orlando in July) this is a good time to go.
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 83°, 16 days with precipitation this month
Middle of August – crowds start to decrease as school begins in some parts of the country. The temperatures are also beginning to back off just a tick toward the very end of August. Do be aware that tropical storms and hurricanes often form from mid-August to late October.
August 20 – November 1 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom
August 28 through October – The Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Avoid Epcot during the weekends as it is a favorite place for the locals to visit.
August 23-31 – if your kids are not in school yet, consider this time of the year to go! This is a prime week to visit.
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 81°, 14 days with precipitation this month
Labor Day – A holiday weekend with heavy crowds. One thing to note, Labor Day itself is one of the least busy holiday Mondays as visitors will often head home the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.
The rest of September is a great time to visit Disney World as schools are in session throughout the country. This would be especially great if you have toddlers who are not currently in school! There is so much to do for families with young kids in Disney – check it out!
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 75°, 9 days with precipitation this month
October 1-8 – great time to go.
October 9-12 – We say, avoid!! Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day federal holiday weekend. People are off of work and kids are off of school which brings heavy crowds.
End of October – Fall breaks for school throughout the country make crowds a bit heavier.
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 68°, 6 days with precipitation this month
November 1-3 Sneaky time to go on a quick trip!
November 4-7: Wine and Dine Half Marathon will bring a bit heavier crowds. This runDisney event is taking on a fun twist this year by highlighting Disney villains!
November 7 – December 22 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom
November 11 Veterans Day (observed) is a federal holiday which brings heavy crowds.
November 22-28 Thanksgiving Holiday week – heavy crowds, stay clear! Generally speaking Saturday-Wednesday are less busy than Thursday-Sunday of this week. In case it matters to you, Christmas decorations at Disney World WILL be up! (Disney Plus has a special showing how they decorate the Magic Kingdom – it is on our list of our favorite Disney Christmas shows on Disney Plus!)
November 27 – December 27 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays at Epcot
Weather: Average Daily temperature is 62°, 6 days with precipitation this month
Second half – Christmas holiday crowds. The Christmas crowds are a real thing. Disney is known to have the highest attendance of visitors between Christmas and New Years Day. Not only are the crowds high, but general costs of everything is higher this time of year. If you are trying to stay on a budget this is not the time to visit Walt Disney World.
When is the best time of year to go to Disney World?
The best times to go to Disney World is the last week of August, the last week of April, and the first week of December. The entire month of September is also a good time to visit.
If I were to pick 3 of my favorite weeks to go from our Disney World Crowd Calendar, it would be the last week of August, last week of April and the first week of December. In December the Christmas decorations are up but the Christmas crowds haven’t started yet.
Disney World Crowd Calendar 2022 Forecast
People have been waiting to go to Disney World in 2022 that masks and social distancing restrictions will be greatly diminished if not completely gone. While we can’t give a definitive word on exactly how things will look, we are very optimistic that 2022 could very well be looking favorable to getting things back to normal at Disney World.
Going on the assumption that Disney World will indeed return to normal in 2022, what will that mean to the crowd levels and how should we navigate through it? The answer is to strategically plan your trip out using all our information to your advantage and this starts with the crowd calendar.
Large crowd factors to look at when planning your trip.
1. Schools in Session
Greatest among factors is this…When schools are in session, there are less crowds at Disney World. Unfortunately, this can be a double-edged sword. You want to try and plan your trip while schools are in session but you also probably have kids that are in school which makes it difficult. If this is the case, try to get creative with days your kids happen to be out of school while the majority of the country is not. For example, maybe your kids schools start later in September or get out earlier in May. Possibly there is a 3 day break somewhere in the school schedule that is unique to your district.
Pretty much any holiday will mean larger crowds. Holidays mean people are off work and out of school and are able to come but some Holidays make Disney World a bit more special and cause crowds to come earlier than the Holiday itself. Christmas being the most important to consider.
3. Special Events
Disney World puts on many many special events throughout the year. In fact there are so many that it seems every weekend there is some large event. Everything from Cheerleading competitions to marathons and everything in between. You need to be aware of them before you come.
4. Park Hours
One last consideration is how long the parks are open and as a general rule, the more crowded the park, the less time it is open. Along with this, sometimes certain shows, such as Fantastic! Are not shown.
Here is a quick look summary of expected 2022 crowd levels for Disney World (full crowd calendar coming soon!)
Great times to go to Disney World in 2022:
- Jan. 4-14
- Jan 24-Feb. 11
- March 1-March 4
- The last week in April
- Almost all of May (especially weekdays), except around Memorial Day weekend
- June 1 – 10
- Most of August
- Most 0f September except around Labor Day weekend
- First week in October
- November 14 – 18
- November 28 – December 16
I also like September because school is in session throughout the country which makes crowds lower, and the competitions that are so wide spread from January through April haven’t started yet.
One other tidbit…Whenever you go, if you can limit weekends as much as possible, you will be better off! If you decide to skip going to Disney in 2021 and are looking ahead to 2022, this is advice you should put in your back pocket.
Now that you know when to go, let’s talk about whether you should stay onsite at Disney World or offsite!
We hope you found our Disney World Crowd Calendar to be helpful! Be sure to share it with your friends and family who are planning their own trip!